Last night, I ran into a friend at the gym, and the first thing she asked was how we have been handling news about the avian flu. This has been typical during the last week. Wherever we go, people are expressing concern for our chickens and our farm because a contagious avian flu is killing flocks of poultry in our state.
Our birds are doing well, and we are doing everything we can to protect them.
Our birds are doing well, and we are doing everything we can to protect them. Some steps have been small, like ordering a couple extra-large coats for each barn so that people can slip a clean coat over their other clothes as they enter. Other steps feel more disappointing, like telling our friends that they can not come over and see the new baby chicks.
The weightiest change, though, is that our veterinarian advised us to keep our hens indoors for 2 to 3 weeks. This is not a step we take lightly, but we are following our veterinarian’s advice because she has earned our trust. We feel very strongly that our chickens should lead good lives and enjoy the outdoors, but if our birds get the flu, they will all die. Keeping them inside for now is the best way to take care of them, our vet says, because it will limit their exposure to wild birds, who carry the virus.
We’re keeping our chickens’ spirits up during the next few weeks. A Minnesota winter can make anyone cranky – even chickens.
We’re keeping our chickens’ spirits up during the next few weeks. Luckily, we already know some tricks for entertaining hens because many of them prefer the warmth of the coop over adventurous outings in snowy winter weather. A Minnesota winter can make anyone cranky – even chickens.
To help the hens have fun, we have been tossing them scratch grains three times a day. Also, we have made toys for them. The most popular toys are large blocks made from two plastic milk crates that are filled with hay and lashed together. Pulling a strand of hay from a block is entertaining, and the hens end up eating it, which gives them a tiny bit of the salad they might be enjoying if they were scratching outside in the summer.
Chickens and chicken farmers alike are both dreaming of sunny days outside again soon
We soak pellets of organic alfalfa overnight for the hens. They get quite excited when we pour this “smoothie” into long feeding troughs.
Because the coops are not dipping below freezing during the nights now, we also can offer the birds soaked alfalfa. We soak pellets of organic alfalfa overnight for the hens. They get quite excited when we pour this “smoothie” into long feeding troughs. I have noticed that in the spring, the hens really seem to crave greens, and so these alfalfa smoothies will be important for them in the next few weeks.
Of course, there is no guarantee of anything when it comes to the avian flu. However, we are grateful to be getting trusted, expert advice on how to take care of our hens. We will do our best to keep our chickens’ spirits up over the next few weeks and will keep in close touch with our veterinarian about how to keep caring for them as the avian flu situation evolves.
We are often asked about what to look for when buying eggs. There are so many buzzwords tossed around when buying, it can be hard to know which ones are worth the extra price.
In the article below we answer questions like: